Tuesday, March 25, 2014

State-run TV Update

There's an odd thing which is going to develop over German TV between now and the end of 2015.  As of this morning....the German Supreme Court has issued a decree over the TV board that monitors and directs state-run TV in Germany....which has broad implications.

A couple of years ago (2009).....the editor-in-chief of ZDF (Channel two) came up on a renewal of his position.  Oddly enough....he wasn't renewed.  Things don't happen like that....unless there's some serious discontent by the board and possibly the public.

No one said much at the time over why Nikolaus Brender wasn't renewed.  But it probably burned some hostile feelings around the network, the news journalists, and some political folks. So, the head prosecutor of two German states (Hamburg and Rheinland) came out and took a case into court.

Their spin?  It just wasn't right with the way that the TV board is organized....too many political folks have a say in what managers stay or go, or the direction of public state-run TV in Germany.  Today, the court said they were right.....but didn't really want to insist how it had to be fixed.  The court merely said that by the end of 2015.....a new board formula has to be developed, there has to be less power swung by political figure....which translates into fewer politicians on the board.

The current board?  Well....seventy-seven members.  Yeah, it's an awful lot.  Nothing much is said over their pay or benefits.  I would assume that they get something, but it's probably a certain amount per day of meeting, and some travel allowance.

Who sits on the board?  Each German state gets one representative (that makes sixteen political folks).  Three members come from the current government itself (CDU, CSU and SPD are the partners currently (that makes 3 political folks), twelve members from the various parties (that makes twelve more political folks), two folks from the Catholic Church (non-political), two folks from the Protestant Church (non-political), and one Jew (yeah, it's hard to figure this deal).  The rest are chosen by the previous members described.

No one says much on the remaining members and how the legit members pick the rest to make up seventy-seven folks.

The two prosecutors in this episode, and some frustrated and angry journalists from ZDF....probably are sitting there now and wondering what exactly this will mean.  The court has opened up a hornet's nest, and could possibly allow non-university members, non-political folks and non-intellectuals to member-up and run the board.  That would be a shocker.

Across Germany, there's some frustrations by the public over the state tax, the amount of garbage on state-run TV, and the cost of operations.  If you sit down with a dozen kids between sixteen and twenty years old....most will tell you that they almost never watch any state-run TV.....ever.  Radio?  Maybe.  Internet selections are catching on.

When digital TV came into being over the last couple of years in Germany....the state-run TV folks did some tricks, and basically created several new networks (ZDF Culture, ZDF Info, ZDF Neo, etc).  Between those and the regional stations....there's not an abundance of viewers.  ZDF Neo was supposed to be this magnet of TV material to interest younger viewers.....but it's never done much of a success.  The commercial networks in Germany attract the young viewers.

The new committee?  I will take a guess over what happens.

- A Muslim is added to the church group with the Jew, two Catholics, and two Protestants.
- The board is defined as fifty-four members maximum.
- Three members will come from the state university system (shockingly, a physicist, a chemist, and an engineer are selected instead of journalism professors)
- Sixteen random citizens (regular people) will come from each of the German states.  None can have any political career.
- Twelve members from political parties.
- One will be a visa-resident (non-German).
- Three-year revolving memberships from each of the various states but none can be political in nature or represent a party.

I doubt if any of my suggestions will be taken....but whatever frustration came out of the guy being let go in 2009.....I'd prepare myself for a board that might go in a mighty different direction, and start carving up empires.

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